AFib Increases Hospital Costs For Young and Older Stroke Patients

Guijing Wang, PhD Senior health economist Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Centers for Disease Control and Interview with:
Guijing Wang, PhD
Senior health economist
Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Wang: Our study is one of the first to analyze the impact of hospital costs related to atrial fibrillation (or AFib) in a younger stroke population. To determine these findings, we examined more than 40,000 hospital admissions information involving adults between the ages of 18 and 64 with a primary diagnosis of ischemic stroke between 2010 and 2012.

Although AFib is more common among those ages 65 and older, with strokes among younger adults on the rise in the U.S., we wanted to take a comprehensive look at AFib’s impact on hospital costs for these patients. AFib is associated with a 4- to 5-fold increased risk of ischemic stroke, which is the most common type of stroke.

Overall, our research found that AFib substantially increased hospital costs for patients with ischemic stroke – and that was consistent across different age groups and genders of those aged 18-64. Of the 33,500 first-time stroke admissions, more than seven percent had AFib, and these admissions cost nearly $5,000 more than those without the condition. In addition, we found that both the costs of hospitalization, as well as the costs associated with AFib, were higher among younger adults (18-54) than those aged 55 to 64.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Wang: Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, killing nearly 130,000 Americans each year and costing an estimated $34 billion annually in health care and lost productivity. This study helps to identify future research areas, such as the need to separately examine the health and economic burden of initial and recurrent strokes, or evaluate the cost-effectiveness of interventions for AFib and stroke prevention and control. And these findings will help clinicians, patients and public health representatives focus efforts as needed.

For example, although research and public health efforts have focused on stroke management and prevention among those over 65-years-old, stroke interventions among younger adults may have great potential from an economic perspective. In addition, the higher costs associated with AFib could suggest that strokes related to the disorder might be more severe than those not linked to it – or it may reflect the added costs of diagnosis and treatment of AFib. Prevention of ischemic stroke in patients with AFib is potentially effective in reducing the disability and economic burden associated with stroke.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Wang: AFib-associated costs among the elder population are still unknown, so further research is necessary to better understand the total economic burden nationwide. In addition, more examination of the impact of AFib on hospital costs for repeat stroke admissions is recommended, as well as research into variations in hospital costs across geographic regions of the U.S.


Hospital Costs Associated With Atrial Fibrillation for Patients With Ischemic Stroke Aged 18–64 Years in the United States

Wang G1, Joo H2, Tong X2, George MG2.

Stroke. 2015 Apr 7. pii: STROKEAHA.114.008563. [Epub ahead of print]

[wysija_form id=”1″] Interview with:, Guijing Wang, PhD (2015). AFib Increases Hospital Costs For Young and Older Stroke Patients 

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